Goals and 2019

Recently the topic of goals for 2019 had come up at work. I’m not usually one for doing the whole “new year’s resolution” thing, but I do like the idea of constantly evaluating progress towards goals as well as what goals are still applicable to me and what could possibly be included/excluded. I also shamefully only managed to post one single post last year and it was merely a list of game ideas for Ludum Dare 42.

What are my goals?

I’m going to take the route this had come up at work and break down my goals into personal and professional. One thing I’m trying to keep in mind is to choose goals that won’t be influenced by external factors, thus only holding myself accountable. I’m hoping to view these goals like one would look at the towers1 in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. They’re points of interest far off in the distance that also allow you to know more about the world once you reach them.

Personal goals

Professional goals

  • Get more involved with training others
  • Give back to the community
  • Release a game

What am I currently doing?

As of writing this article some of the wheels have already been put in motion to achieve these goals. I managed to injure both my shoulders while climbing last year and somehow it started going by the wayside. I lost some motivation to continue doing something I really enjoyed and it also happened to be the one thing that kept me healthy. I have a lot of work to put into myself this year and it’s already started with me hitting the gym. I’m not planning on losing weight, but rather getting rid of excess fat and upping my fitness a little. A big focus for me will be to ensure that my shoulders are strong enough for the climbing I’m doing these days and that it’ll help fix my posture a litte. Sitting in front of a computer is not a good thing for one’s body and I’m definitely feeling more and more how much it’s hurting me these days, especially since I’m more aware of my weaknesses now.

Reading Game Engine Architecture is going to be no easy task. It’s essentially a handbook on you guessed it, Game Engine Architecture, and it’s a majestic 3kg beast. I’m finding more and more that I really enjoy the engineering aspect of software development, but more than that I’m really intruiged about it in the field of game development. I’ve come to realize that game development isn’t just about writing code, but it’s the thing that I’m extremely good at and I need to know how to better apply myself to enable others to more easily make games. I am looking forward to reading this book as well as writing about what I’m learning about. I’m expecting to walk away with a better understanding of how Unity works which should allow me to write code that better integrates with Unity.

Helping others to be better is something that I always strive to do. I enjoy learning and I also enjoy talking about what I’m learning about. My hopes is to just engage with others and find ways to help them with stuff they might be struggling with. The goal is a little vague for my taste, but I’ll refine it and adjust as necessary.

Write once a month, well whatever this is I consider it something I’ve written. I’ve been meaning to write some more about Unity’s Data-Oriented Tech Stack, most people know it as ECS and I also want to put down some thoughts on Richard Fabian’s book titled Data-Oriented Design. It’s by far the best read for 2018 and there’s so much more to discuss on the topic that it definitely warrants a review.

For those that don’t know my cousin Matt and I started up a podcast last year. We’ve published a few episodes on this and that, but it’s been going slower than I expected. The plan is to change this now and get one podcast episode done a month. I can’t guarantee it will be a fully coherent list of episodes, but with a title like Crazy Cousin Chats I feel that’s kind of expected. There’s one episode that I still need to finish editing, but I’m going to publish it this month still so that we can get to work on the next episode.

I already have the wheels rolling on getting more involved with training others. I’m working with my colleague Duane on some advanced .NET content as part of the Entelect Dojo programme. This is set to kick off in March so we should be ready by then and see where in the rotation we’ll fall. We’ve realized that there’s a lot of advanced topics to cover in .NET so there’s even the possibility to have a second part to the Dojo. This is one I’m really looking forward to as I’ve been jumping around between presenting at our internal DevDay as some more informal sessions like the Beer & Tech and Lunchtime Learning.

Firstly I should clarify on what I mean with this: I want to give back to the wider Tech/GameDev Community. This is by no means an easy task, but I’m honestly not planning on doing something amazing. Rami Ismail from Vlambeer created an amazing little tool called presskit() (pronounced ‘do presskit’). It’s essentially a PHP tool that allows a studio to put together details about the studio, it’s games as well as media that the press can use. It’s a one stop shop for people wanting to find out more and I believe it can help quite a bit for your discoverability to have this available. My biggest gripe with this is that it requires hosting on a server that can run PHP. This blog is hosted by GitLab Pages using Hugo which allows me to keep costs extremely low as at the moment I’m only paying my yearly domain registration fee. Now I believe that small indie studios will likely be trying to do the same in keeping costs low. I definitely know that it’s going to be the case for me so I would definitely like to have something that would help me easily generate a presskit available for Hugo. I contacted Rami and asked him if he’s fine with me doing the port and he was happy for me to do so. Now I’m still in the process of figuring everything out, but I suspect the Hugo version will be a much stripped down version as the tool has a lot of the stuff built in that had been catered for in the PHP implementation of presskit().

Finally the biggest goal for the year is to actually get a game released. I’m still working on my definition for released, but I think I’d count it released if we can get it onto itch.io, but getting onto other stores would also be great. There’s still a lot to be done on AA Battery, but there’s also a lot of work to do to establish an online presence for both us and the game. We’re looking at descoping some of the game and simplifying it a bit and we’re also moving into implementing the final version using the Unity Data-Oriented Tech Stack.

Closing thoughts

I think setting goals for yourself is an important aspect of improving yourself. I’ll be on the lookout for the goals other individuals might have in case I might be able to provide a lending hand. I urge everyone reading this to please hold me accountable and would really appreciate feedback and suggestions on how to more easily achieve these goals. I’ll be posting updates on my progress from time to time as well as updating my list of goals to ensure that I keep on track towards bettering myself. I’m also making myself available to others who might be having trouble with their goals. Feel free to contact me on twitter or even just in the comment section of this page if you’re having difficulty deciding on your own goals or have suggestions on ways I could easily reach a goal.

Author

Sas van der Westhuizen

Senior Software Engineer at Entelect; "engineering" since 2015; loves games, rock climbing; been trying my hand at making games, but nothing good yet!